Our new friends from Rockportaal keep delivering new reviews, and this time they wrote about our distribution artist Ivory Tower Project. And they were impressed! The original is in Dutch, but here a quick English translation:
Most bands have a story, a history. Usually that story is like a path over roses. Whether or not with side roads or detours. That they can walk very differently with a band, no one knows better than the people from Ivory Tower Project.
In 1980 the two songwriters Johnny Jace and Mark Regula set up Ivory Tower Project. Making music like their examples Boston, Foreigner, Styx and Queen. Soon after the foundation, in 1983, drummer Sal DiAngelo died. But that is not everything. Co-founder Johnny Jace died in 2003. To make matters worse, Mark Regula became permanently disabled in 2009 as a result of a car accident. It did not stop the remaining members from publishing the album Red Hot in 2010. The survival of the band (or better still the project) was then hanging by a thread. But an old acquaintance of the band, also guitarist and sound engineer Tony Navarro, was the saving angel. The two of them made How Much More ?, on which also the latest feats of Johnny Jace can be heard.
The title track and opener How Much More? already cuts right into it. The intro is quiet, but the song tilts through the heart-rending vocals of Mark Regula. In everything you hear that he feels what he is singing. And then I almost forget the flaming keyboard and guitar solos that the song decides. On The Ides Of March (et tu Brute?) The duo rumbles through musically like Queen in their early days.
Spacey guitar and keys supported by the greasy and ‘slacking’ sound of a bass guitar put you upright in the danceable Gotcha. The song is catchy and full of electronic effects. It reminds me at times of Jan Hammer in his soundtrack to the TV series Miami Vice. It sounds like an amalgamation of the eighties and the present tense. Love song Ring Around Rosie and the pointy Way Too Late continue the melodic and catchy way. Uncomplicated and encouraging to sing along on a sunny day in your convertible. When Friends Becomes Lovers is of the same cloth.
At Please Tell Me is a key role for Tony Novarro on guitar and vocals. It is a classic rock song pur sang and dedicated to deceased drummer Sal DiAngelo. Woman Of The Times is funky and reminiscent of Level 42 thanks to the limping bass guitar. The infectious song is interspersed with saxophone, giving the whole thing a feel of the 80s. The album continues its journey with passionate and very rhythmic Burning. The album is clearly in the danceable retro corner at this stage.
Further back in time, Ivory Tower Project goes with the instrumental Surf Song. Close your eyes and think of waving palms, burning sand and The Beach Boys during these three minutes. Wake up with the beautiful and emotionally sung ball You Can See It In My Eyes, including polyphonic vocals. After a no-name song sung in Spanish, the album ends with My Name. The song is from the album Red Hot. We hear it here in a long disco version full of synthesizers, sequencers and loops. A nicer icing on the cake is not imaginable.
For Mark Regula, his ‘ivory tower’ is paradise on earth. A place where he can literally escape from the suffering he has experienced. But also experience daily. How Much More? is about how much a person can have. The album is a reflection of the history of the band. An album that stands in all respects as a tower. With his foundation in the seventies and eighties.
Thank you Hans!